In today’s constantly evolving media business, media agencies are challenged to find a fresh perspective and a new approach in their quest for growth.
Six months into her role as managing director of Vizeum Cape Town, Ann van Rensburg is enthusiastic, inspired and rising to the challenge of “accelerating business growth through media”.
“As the adage states, progress is impossible without change, a key challenge within media agencies across so many areas right now,” says van Rensburg.
She believes agencies will need to invest considerably into upskilling strong talent to required levels of digital competence and confidence to be able to lead the business, and they’ll need to do it fast.
Van Rensburg says clients want one access point that talks to all disciplines at a technical level, and this is somewhat of a rarity in the industry.
“Integration of digital and traditional strategic thinking is imperative but legacy behaviour in our industry has shaped specialist strategists who are either sluggish when it comes to digital uptake or often simply reluctant to change,” she says. “This calls for hybrid strategists who need to be experts across all areas – a massive challenge.”
Another area of focus is that of the shifting role of the media buyer as the industry moves towards greater automation. In time the buying function will become automated (requiring no manual buying or loading).
“This means that the role of the buyer will need to shift to that of an implementation planner, suggesting a collapsing or adapting of a foundational role in the industry. Agencies need to be forward thinking in this regard and ensure that they’re set-up for the change ahead,” says Van Rensburg.
Transformation for long-term change
Van Rensburg believes that transformation within media agencies is a key issue which requires immediate attention in order to pave the way for fundamental long-term change.
She says the slow pace of transformation in the media space must be addressed as there aren’t enough experienced equitable staff in the market – a problem she believes may be more prevalent in Cape Town than in Johannesburg.
“Agencies need to own the solution by developing people who’re able to move up through the business and in so doing transform it,” she adds.
Creating equitable candidates
Van Rensburg says that DAN (Dentsu Aegis Network) specifically runs an internship programme aimed at creating equitable candidates in media.
“We invest considerable time and effort into developing people and equipping them with the skills required to hold accountable positions in industry. Through this this process we’ve succeeded in placing the majority of all interns back into the business, some of whom now occupy mid and senior level roles within the group,” she says.
The DAN Academy also benefits learners who go through the programme receive credit-bearing certification in line with the NQF. “This programme is incredibly valuable in that it has both an entry level component which equips learners with basic business skills and foundational knowledge as well as a media component with specialist outcomes,” Van Rensburg adds.
Transformation of media agencies
Van Resnburg believes it’s the responsibility of leaders in the industry to ensure that their decisions today contribute to a transformed future for media agencies.
“At DAN we’re very active in this space, constantly assessing and hiring accordingly. Through an ongoing process of training and development we’re equipping people with the skills, wisdom and experience to occupy leadership roles,” she says.
Van Rensburg believes it is simply not an option for media and creative agencies to move further apart. “I’ve always placed extremely high value on the collaborative power of a passionate creative and media agency relationship. A partnership can only enhance the output, it’s a clear win-win scenario. I can’t imagine a successful scenario without staying close to the creative agency,” she says.
She adds that being part of the process from the outset means that they are able to remain true to the creative intention. “This is enhanced through delivering media strategies which not only bring the ideas to life but do so in such a way that delivers targeted, measurable outcomes,” she says.
She believes that offering guidance is crucial and media strategists have a pivotal role to play in optimising delivery while showcasing the ideas.
Top 3 trends for SA media agencies this year
- Consolidation is going to be key, the ability to combine previously divergent disciplines and specialisations within an agency will become particularly important. This approach not only saves costs but delivers the convenience, agility and integration which clients require of their agencies.
- Increasing numbers of digital specialists in media agencies as media spend evolves and digital occupies an even greater portion of the overall media budget than before. The evolution in this space will force agencies to revisit resourcing models to accommodate the changing needs of clients.
- The trend towards in-house agencies and the rise of consultancies will force media agencies to adapt in the face of this competition. Costs, models, relevance and reaction times will need to be revisited.
Van Rensburg says her goals for the coming year include introducing, nurturing and developing new talent within Vizeum while at the same time presenting opportunity to grow the exceptional senior talent within the agency. “For me, it’s all about the people. When a team is challenged and inspired the energy shifts within an agency and the rest falls into place.”
Bettina Moss is an inspirational writer, motivational speaker, GlowCoach, intuitive counsellor, mentor and presenter in the field of personal growth and development. She founded GloWoman in 2010.